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Army deserter among 3 militants killed in Pulwama encounter in Kashmir

Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salaudin had welcomed the soldier, Zahoor Ahmad Thokar, joining the militant ranks. Hizbul Mujahideen had even shared a video of the soldier along with top commanders of the militant group.

india Updated: Dec 15, 2018 23:46 IST
Mir Ehsan
Mir Ehsan
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
Pulwama encounter,Pulwama,Hizbul Mujahideen
The encounter broke out early on Saturday after security forces launched a cordon and search operation in Sirnoo village of the district, a police officer said.(ANI Photo)

An ex-soldier who deserted the army last year was among the three militants killed in the operation by security forces in Sirnoo village of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Saturday.

Zahoor Ahmad Thokar was with the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (JAKLI) and posted in Gantmulla area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district when he joined the militant ranks in June 2017, taking along his service rifle.

Thokar announced that he had joined the militancy on social media. He became a deserter two years after joining the Territorial Army.

Soon after his desertion, a high security alert was sounded and his family members were questioned by the authorities.

Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin had welcomed his joining the militant ranks.

Hizbul Mujahideen had even shared a video of Thokar along with top commanders of the militant group. Army and the police launched several operations o track him down in the villages of Pulwama and neighbouring Shopian. He, however, always managed to escape, thanks to the training he received during his army stint.

“We knew he will get trapped one day. It took us more than 17 months to neutralize him. He escaped many times in the past during cordon-and-search operations,’’ said an army officer on condition of anonymity.

Thokar was the second ex-soldier who joined the militant ranks and was killed in an operation this year. Another soldier, Idrees Ahmad, a resident of Safnagri who deserted the army in April this year when he was on leave, was killed last month along with another militant in an operation by security forces in Shopian.

Thokar’s body was handed over to his family members and buried in his village, Sirnoo. A police spokesman said Thokar was wanted in connection with many terrorist crimes, including the killing of policemen.

First Published: Dec 15, 2018 23:44 IST